Modernizing grazing resources for the next generation of agriculture and natural resource professionals

Project Overview

ENC19-177
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $87,977.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2022
Grant Recipient: GrassWorks, Inc.
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Jill Hapner
GrassWorks, Inc.

Commodities

  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial)
  • Animals: bovine

Practices

  • Animal Production: grazing management, grazing - rotational
  • Education and Training: networking

    Proposal abstract:

    The proposed project will build upon GrassWorks’ ongoing initiative to create new resources and increase the breadth, depth and reach of existing tools, resources, and networks throughout the state to scale up agency awareness and support of managed grazing. The target audience for the project is university, non-profit, and agency staff throughout the state of Wisconsin and neighboring states. Over the last decade, Wisconsin has lost nearly all of its Extension and state-level agency capacity to provide research-based information on managed grazing. GrassWorks, a state-wide farmer-run non-profit, has stepped in to fill the void in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. Activities planned include bringing together grazing farmers and agency staff to produce a new series of on-farm videos about managed grazing, developing an online grazing resource library and an “Ask A Grazier” forum, expanding and updating the Grazing Ambassador program, creating a master resource list of grazing events and professionals throughout the state, and recruiting incoming agency staff and Technical Service Providers (TSPs) to join Wisconsin’s growing network of grazing professionals.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The on-farm videos series will produce twelve or more brief, 5-10 minute videos explaining key concepts of grazing management in a “show & tell” format in which interviewees explain a concept and demonstrate it in the field. These videos will be freely available on a common online platform (YouTube or Vimeo) and linked on the GrassWorks website, with shareable links available for collaborators. Through sharing with partners, use in events, and online promotion, we anticipate each of these videos generating at least 1,000 views by the conclusion of the grant. These videos will be intended for incoming agency staff and beginning graziers, but could also be accessed by experienced grazing professionals or members of the public.  

    The GrassWorks website will be expanded to include new pages listing contact information for grazing professionals in the Upper Midwest, an updated and comprehensive list of grazing events in the area, and grazing resource library featuring links to key grazing instructional materials. An “Ask A Grazier” forum will also be established based on input from the web designer, in which users will be able to post questions and comments that can be responded to by knowledgeable GrassWorks members identified by the project coordinator. Using Google Analytics or a similar web traffic monitoring system, we anticipate having at least 1,000 unique visitors to the GrassWorks website, and more than 25 active discussions in the “Ask A Grazier” forum, in the final year of the grant. The project coordinator will work with collaborators to develop a promotional strategy for the website utilizing word-of-mouth, mailing lists, and social media campaigns.

    New materials will be developed for the Grazing Ambassadors program, enabling agency staff or GrassWorks members to deliver presentations for local community organizations such as library groups, nature centers, and high school classes. The project coordinator will oversee this program and work with presenters to maintain records of attendance and participation. With a target of at least 12 Grazing Ambassador presentations within the grant timeline and a conservative estimate of at least 20 attendees per presentation, the Grazing Ambassador program is expected to introduce the concepts and benefits of managed grazing to at least 240 individuals in the Upper Midwest.

    In-person training events for incoming agency staff will build upon existing training efforts and will utilize the new grazing resources and individual and interagency competitions to motivate engagement. Quarterly meetings held in conjunction with the GrassWorks grazing conference or in collaboration with the three RC&D partners are conservatively estimated to draw at least 25 attendees each, for a total of 300 attendees at in-person training events. Based on estimates of incoming staff in NRCS, University Extension, DNR, and county conservation divisions, these meetings aim to reach up to 100 unique individuals who are early-career conservation professionals. End-of-meeting evaluations will be used to record attendance and impact of meeting activities.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.